About Brian Kavanagh

Chair, Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development

Democrat Democrat

District 26

About New York State Senator Brian Kavanagh

Para leer la biografía en español, mire debajo de la versión en inglés.

State Senator Brian Kavanagh represents more than 320,000 residents in New York’s Senate District 26, including the Manhattan neighborhoods of Battery Park City, Chinatown, the East and South Villages, the Financial District, Little Italy, the Lower East Side, SoHo, Tribeca, and Two Bridges and the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, the Columbia Waterfront, DUMBO, Downtown Brooklyn, Fulton Ferry, Greenpoint, the Navy Yard, Vinegar Hill, and Williamsburg. (Click here for a map).

[Due to the redistricting process that occurs every ten years, the Manhattan and Brooklyn portions of the current district have been divided into separate districts for the 2022 elections and will be represented by separate Senators as of 2023. A new Manhattan district, designated District 27, includes all of the Manhattan neighborhoods that make up the bulk of the current district, plus additional residents of the East Village, Greenwich Village, and NoHo. (Click here for a map of the new District 27.)]

Brian was first elected to the Senate in 2017 after representing the 74th District on Manhattan’s East Side in the State Assembly, where he was elected to six terms, beginning in 2006. His work has focused on affordable housing, gun violence prevention, environmental sustainability, democracy and open government, and economic and social justice.

HOUSING

As Chair of the Senate Committee on Housing, Construction, and Community Development, Brian has built on his decades of advocating for access to high quality, safe, affordable housing for all New Yorkers. 

He has worked to secure huge public investments in housing and related services, including $5.5 billion in capital and $2.5 billion in other expenditures in the 2022-2023 State budget to renovate and maintain existing affordable housing, create new homes for homeless, low-income, and middle class New Yorkers, and provide financial assistance for renters and homeowners.

In 2022, Brian passed a law to facilitate conversion of under-used hotels to permanent affordable housing, and advanced his proposal in both the Senate and the Assembly for a new large-scale Housing Access Voucher Program, modeled on the federal Section 8 program, to provide rental assistance for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness or facing eviction.

From the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brian advocated to stop evictions and foreclosures and to provide funding to keep renters and homeowners from losing their homes. He authored the statewide eviction and foreclosure moratorium, extending it three times, for a total of 22 months. He also succeeded in enacting New York’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program and Homeowner Assistance Fund, and allocating $3.5 billion for these programs to date, including the largest investment of state funds for this purpose in the country. Brian continues to advocate for additional federal and state funds to fully cover the need.

In 2019, Brian led the Senate effort to enact the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act, which gave New York the most comprehensive tenant protections in the nation. The HSTPA dramatically strengthened the rent regulation laws, made them permanent, enabled any locality with a very low vacancy rate to adopt rent regulation, created new protections for residents of mobile and manufactured home parks, and instituted other substantial new rights for all renters statewide. In 2022, Brian co-chaired a public hearing on legislation he cosponsors that would expand tenant protections to New Yorkers who don’t have rent stabilization by requiring landlords show they have good cause in eviction cases.

Under Brian’s leadership, the Housing Committee held hearings on enforcement of housing, building, and fire codes and advanced broad packages of legislation that passed the Senate in 2020 and 2022. Throughout his tenure, Brian has fought for major improvements in the management, maintenance, and security of public housing. While there have been some successes, including state capital funds allocated in recent years, he continues to advocate for a better response from city, state, and federal government.

In response to thorough reporting by Newsday on racial and ethnic discrimination by real estate brokers on Long Island, Brian joined colleagues to hold hearings, subpoena witnesses, investigate the allegations, and produce a report identify ways to protect all New Yorkers’ right to fair access to housing. The resulting legislative package was enacted in 2021. Brian also successfully advocated in 2019, 2020, and 2021 to restore funding for foreclosure prevention counseling and legal services, which had been cut from the Executive budget. In 2022, he led the successful push to substantially increase this funding to meet the greater need resulting from the financial hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic. He has also authored and co-sponsored several new laws to protect the rights of homeowners in the foreclosure process.

Locally within District 26, Brian has championed the Neighborhood Preservation Program to ensure that community organizations have the resources they need to provide front-line housing services in Chinatown, the Lower East Side, Carroll Gardens, Columbia Waterfront, Greenpoint, and Williamsburg. He enacted legislation in 2022 to protect housing stability for residents of Joint Live Work Quarters for Artists, a special type of housing that permits residential use of commercial and manufacturing loft spaces in SoHo and NoHo. He passed legislation through the Senate and the Assembly to expand programs that freeze the rents of lower-income seniors and those with disabilities to include residents of former Mitchell-Lama buildings like Independence Plaza North in Manhattan. He also passed legislation to extend these programs to residents of Battery Park City, to help promote the long-term stability of the community by extending the master lease between the BPC Authority and the City by 50 years, and to require a majority of the Authority’s board to be primary residents of Battery Park City.

GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION

In his more than a decade and a half in the legislature, Brian has repeatedly taken on the gun industry lobby and won, helping to reduce gun violence in New York and across the country. He is the founder and chair of American State Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention and New York Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention. In 2022, he led the Senate debate to enact legislation to respond to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a key part of New York’s gun permitting law. The new law created stringent training and background check requirements for permits to carry a gun, banned guns from sensitive areas even with a permit, and enhanced safe storage requirements. Also in 2022, Brian successfully enacted his legislation to establish the State Police as the “point of contact” to conduct background checks on all gun and ammunition sales, ensuring a more thorough review than the federal system alone. In the same year, Brian enacted new rules for gun dealers to ensure guns aren’t lost or stolen from their inventory and to prevent gun and ammunition sales to those who are prohibited from purchasing them. He also enacted the nation's first statewide ban on the sale of body armor, which has been used in mass shootings, with exceptions for law enforcement, security jobs, or other positions that require it.

Brian drafted and passed New York’s “red flag” law, enacted in 2019, which empowers families, law enforcement, and schools to obtain Extreme Risk Protection Orders to keep guns away from individuals when evidence shows they are likely to harm themselves or others. In 2013, he helped craft the NY SAFE Act, which requires background checks on all gun sales, and bans certain military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. He has also advocated successfully for laws requiring a permit and a minimum age of 21 for purchasing a semi-automatic rifle, safe storage of guns when not in their owner’s possession, more support for community-based gun violence intervention, and gun violence prevention research funding. Brian’s work earned him the Detective McDonald Law Enforcement Award from New Yorkers Against Gun Violence in 2019.

ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

Brian has also been a leader in promoting environmental sustainability. He is a strong supporter of the Environmental Bond Act, increased in 2022 from $3 billion to $4.2 billion, for flood risk reduction, open space and land conservation, climate change mitigation including electric school buses and green buildings, and water quality improvement. He introduced the All-Electric Building Act, which would ban construction of new buildings that require fossil fuels — after 2023 for buildings under six stories and in 2027 for all other buildings — with limited exceptions for certain functions where all-electric systems are not feasible. He co-sponsored the Build Public Renewables Act to authorize the New York Power Authority to build and own renewable energy projects, phase out existing fossil fuel-fired power generation, and deliver renewable energy to state, municipal, and residential customers.

Brian was a proud co-sponsor of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, enacted in 2019, which mandated huge cuts in climate pollution, investment in clean, renewable energy sources, and creation of green jobs to promote environmental justice — the most comprehensive and ambitious climate change law in the United States. He was an early champion of the successful campaign to ban high-volume fracking for fossil fuels, and has sponsored legislation to prevent exposure to toxic chemicals and to make producers responsible for recycling or disposing of products at the end of their useful life. In 2022, he authored a bill that passed both houses of the legislature to require producers of carpeting to collect, recycle, and reuse old carpeting rather than sending it to landfills.

Brian has served on the Environmental Committee during each of his years in the legislature and is on the Board of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. His work has earned him the League of Conservation Voters Eco-Star Award, and top ratings each year from LCV and Environmental Advocates of New York.

Local initiatives on resiliency, open space, and green infrastructure have complemented Brian’s work on statewide issues. He helped lead relief efforts after Superstorm Sandy and has advocated for ongoing neighborhood resiliency initiatives. In 2019, he passed legislation to increase Battery Park City’s ability to raise capital for resiliency measures. As an Assemblymember, he passed legislation and negotiated a deal between the City and the State to create new parkland and a mile-long esplanade that will eventually close the gap in the East River Greenway from East 60th to East 38th Street in Manhattan. He also commissioned, with then-Borough President Scott Stringer, the East River Blueway Plan, a comprehensive proposal to improve resiliency and public access to Manhattan’s waterfront.

DEMOCRACY AND OPEN GOVERNMENT

Promoting cleaner, fairer elections by modernizing voting and establishing effective campaign finance laws has been a central part of Brian’s work as well. He chaired the Assembly Subcommittee on Election Operations, and authored and passed many bills in that house that the Senate blocked for years, including early voting, voter registration improvements, and campaign finance reforms. With the change in Senate leadership in 2019, he joined colleagues in enacting comprehensive election reform as the first act of the new legislative session. His bill closed the notorious “LLC Loophole,” one of the most egregious failings of New York’s laws, which allowed virtually unlimited contributions to political candidates, often with contributors’ true identity hidden. The national organization Fair Vote has presented Brian with its Champion of Democracy Award.

Brian has also been an advocate for transparency in the ways the legislature does the people’s work. He co-chaired the Assembly Workgroup on Legislative Process, Operations, and Public Participation, which reformed significant aspects of the Assembly’s rules and practices.

PERSONAL

Before he was elected to the legislature, Brian served on the staff of City Councilmember Gale Brewer, in the administrations of  Mayors Ed Koch and David Dinkins, as an attorney at the New York City law firms of Kaye Scholer and Schulte Roth & Zabel, and as a researcher and voting rights advocate at Dēmos.

One of six children of an Irish-immigrant police officer and a community leader who had a distinguished career at a local newspaper, Brian is part of a large, close-knit extended family. He is a lifelong New Yorker and has been a resident of Manhattan for more than three decades. He grew up on Staten Island, attended Regis High School and Princeton University on scholarship, and earned his law degree from New York University, where he was a Dean’s Scholar. He has American and Irish passports and serves as Treasurer of the American-Irish Legislators Society. When not working, Brian loves to play chess, read, run or bike through the neighborhoods he proudly represents, and go hiking or backpacking in the Adirondacks, where he hopes to climb all 46 of the high peaks.
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Sobre el Senador del Estado de Nueva York Brian Kavanagh

El Senador Estatal Brian Kavanagh representa a más de 320,000 residentes del Distrito Senatorial 26 del Estado de Nueva York, que incluye los vecindarios de Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Columbia Waterfront, DUMBO, Downtown Brooklyn, Fulton Ferry, Greenpoint, Navy Yard, Vinegar Hill y Williamsburg en Brooklyn y Battery Park City, Chinatown, East Village, South Village, Financial District, Little Italy, Lower East Side, SoHo, Tribeca y Two Bridges en Manhattan.

Brian fue elegido para servir en el Senado en 2017 después de representar al Distrito 74 de la Asamblea Estatal, donde sirvió por seis términos desde 2006. Su trabajo se enfoca en promover la vivienda accesible , la prevención de la violencia con armas de fuego, proteger el medio ambiente, crear un proceso político más abierto y equitativo e impulsar la justicia económica y social.

Como Presidente del Comité Senatorial de Construcción de Viviendas y Desarrollo Comunitario, Brian ha utilizado sus décadas de experiencias  para el acceso a vivienda económica, segura y de buena calidad para todos los neoyorquinos. En el año 2019, lideró al Senado en su esfuerzo para promulgar la Ley de Estabilidad de Vivienda y Protección de Inquilinos, que le concedió a Nueva York las protecciones para inquilinos más sólidas de la nación. Esta ley, conocida, por sus siglas en inglés, como la HSTPA, fortaleció dramáticamente las leyes de regulación de alquileres, las hizo permanentes, le dio el poder a cualquier localidad con una tasa baja de unidades de vivienda de alquiler desocupadas a adoptar las medidas de regulación de alquileres, creó nuevas protecciones para los residentes de casas móviles y prefabricadas e instituyó otros derechos importantes para todos los inquilinos a través del Estado.

En respuesta a reportajes exhaustivos publicados por Newsday acerca de la discriminación étnica y racial por parte de los agentes de bienes raíces de Long Island, Brian se unió a sus colegas para investigar las alegaciones e identificar maneras para proteger el derecho de todos los neoyorquinos a tener acceso justo a vivienda; esta labor sigue en curso en 2020. En los años 2019 y 2020, Brian también abogó exitosamente para restituir los fondos destinados a servicios legales y asesoramiento para la prevención de ejecuciones hipotecarias en cada condado y legislación para lograr un proceso de ejecución hipotecaria más justo.

En sus 14 años en la Legislatura, Brian ha encarado en repetidas ocasiones a la industria y grupos de presión política a favor  de las armas de fuego y ganó, ayudando a reducir la violencia con armas de fuego en Nueva York y a través del país. Es fundador y presidente de American State Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention (Legisladores Estadounidenses para la Prevención de Violencia con Armas de Fuego) y Co-Presidente de New York Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention (Legisladores de Nueva York para la Prevención de Violencia con Armas de Fuego). Redactó y logró la aprobación de la ley de “alerta roja” de Nueva York, promulgada en  2019, dándole el poder a las familias, la fuerza policial y las escuelas para obtener Órdenes de Protección de Riesgo Extremo para poner las armas de fuego fuera  de las manos de personas que evidentemente pueden representar peligro para sí mismos o los demás. En el año 2013, Brian ayudó a crear la Ley NY SAFE, que impone el requisito de verificación de antecedentes en todas las compras de armas y prohíbe las armas de asalto de estilo militar y cargadores de municiones de alta capacidad. Abogó exitosamente también por leyes que requieran el almacenamiento seguro de armas de fuego cuando no están en posesión de su dueño, más apoyo a la intervención comunitaria contra la violencia con armas de fuego y la asignación de fondos para estudios de prevención de violencia con armas de fuego. En reconocimiento a su trabajo, Brian recibió el McDonald Law Enforcement Award de parte de New Yorkers Against Gun Violence en 2019.

Brian también se ha desempeñado como un líder ambiental. Ha tenido el orgullo de copatrocinar la Ley de Liderazgo Climático y Protección Comunitaria, promulgada en el 2019 que ordena grandes recortes en la contaminación ambiental, inversiones en fuentes de energía limpias y renovables y la creación de empleos ecológicos para promover la justicia ambiental. Esta es la ley de cambio climático más completa y ambiciosa de los Estados Unidos. Fue de los primeros defensores de la exitosa campaña para la prohibición de la hidrofracturación de alto volumen para la extracción de combustibles fósiles y patrocinó la legislación para la prevención de exposición a químicos tóxicos y hacer que los productores de este tipo de sustancia sean responsables por el reciclaje o desecho de estos productos una vez termine su vida útil. Brian ha servido en el Comité Ambiental en cada uno de sus años en la Legislatura y está en la Junta del Caucus Nacional de Legisladores Ambientales (Board of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators). Ha sido reconocido por su trabajo con el League of Conservation Voters Eco-Star Award, y todos los años ha recibido las más altas puntuaciones de parte de LCV y Environmental Advocates of New York.

Las iniciativas locales para la resiliencia, espacios abiertos e infraestructura ecológica han complementado el trabajo de Brian en cuanto a asuntos que afectan a todo el Estado. Ha ayudado a liderar los esfuerzos de recuperación tras la Supertormenta Sandy y ha abogado por iniciativas que aún se encuentran en curso para fomentar la resistencia de vecindarios. En el año 2019, aprobó legislación para aumentar la capacidad de recaudación de capital para medidas de resiliencia en Battery Park City. Como Asambleísta, aprobó legislación y negoció un trato entre la Ciudad y el Estado para crear nuevos parques y una plaza de 1 milla que eventualmente cerrará el espacio del East River Greenway desde la calle East 60th hasta la calle East 38th en Manhattan. Adicionalmente, comisionó junto al, en aquel entonces, Presidente del Condado Scott Stringer, el Plan East River Blueway, un proyecto comunitario para mejorar la solidez y acceso público en las costas de Manhattan. 

Promover elecciones más limpias y justas por medio de la modernización del voto y el establecimiento de leyes efectivas para el financiamiento de campañas ha sido también una parte central del trabajo de Brian. Presidió el Subcomité de Operaciones Electorales de la Asamblea, y en esa misma cámara creó y aprobó varios proyectos de ley que fueron obstaculizados en el Senado por años, incluyendo la votación temprana, mejorías al sistema de inscripción de votantes y reformas al financiamiento de campañas. Con el cambio de liderazgo del Senado en 2019, se unió a sus colegas para promulgar una reforma exhaustiva a la ley electoral en la nueva sesión legislativa. Su proyecto de ley reparó el conocido fallo () legal de las LLC, una de las fallas legales más atroces en el Estado de Nueva York que permitía las contribuciones prácticamente ilimitadas a candidatos políticos y, en muchas ocasiones, la verdadera identidad del donante permanecía en el anonimato. La organización política nacional FairVote reconoció a Brian con el Champion of Democracy Award.

Brian ha sido también defensor de la transparencia en la manera en que la Legislatura le sirve al pueblo. Co-Presidió el Grupo de Trabajo de Proceso Legislativo, Operaciones y Participación Pública, que reformó aspectos significativos de las prácticas y reglas de la Asamblea.

Brian comenzó su servicio gubernamental como ayudante del Alcalde Ed Koch y sirvió en tres administraciones de la alcaldía, trabajando en la supervisión de agencias de vivienda, ayudando a diseñar y manejar un grupo de trabajo para la seguridad contra incendios y aplicación de códigos y mejorar los servicios ofrecidos a los neoyorquinos sin hogar. Más adelante, sirvió como Jefe de Personal de la, en aquel entonces, Concejal Gale Brewer y como investigador y defensor en Dēmos, donde se enfocó en asegurar los derechos electorales de los ciudadanos de bajos ingresos a través de toda la nación.

Nació en Staten Island y también fue criado allí., Brian asistió a la Regis High School, Princeton University y NYU Law School. Fue admitido en el Colegio de Abogados del Estado de Nueva York y practicó leyes en Kaye Scholer and Schulte Roth & Zabel. Es portador de un pasaporte irlandés y es Tesorero de la Sociedad de Legisladores Irlandeses-Estadounidenses.